Prevention and reversal of selenite-induced cataracts by N-acetylcysteine amide in Wistar rats

Yasaswi Maddirala, Shakila Tobwala, Humeyra Karacal, Nuran Ercal

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29 Scopus citations


Background: The present study sought to evaluate the efficacy of N-acetylcysteine amide (NACA) eye drops in reversing the cataract formation induced by sodium selenite in male Wistar rat pups. Methods: Forty male Wistar rat pups were randomly divided into a control group, an N-acetylcysteine amide-only group, a sodium selenite-induced cataract group, and a NACA-treated sodium selenite-induced cataract group. Sodium selenite was injected intraperitoneally on postpartum day 10, whereas N-acetylcysteine amide was injected intraperitoneally on postpartum days 9, 11, and 13 in the respective groups. Cataracts were evaluated at the end of week 2 (postpartum day 14) when the rat pups opened their eyes. N-acetylcysteine amide eye drops were administered beginning on week 3 until the end of week 4 (postpartum days 15 to 30), and the rats were sacrificed at the end of week 4. Lenses were isolated and examined for oxidative stress parameters such as glutathione, lipid peroxidation, and calcium levels along with the glutathione reductase and thioltransferase enzyme activities. Casein zymography and Western blot of m-calpain were performed using the water soluble fraction of lens proteins. Results: Morphological examination of the lenses in the NACA-treated group indicated that NACA was able to reverse the cataract grade. In addition, glutathione level, thioltransferase activity, m-calpain activity, and m-calpain level (as assessed by Western blot) were all significantly higher in the NACA-treated group than in the sodium selenite-induced cataract group. Furthermore, sodium selenite- injected rat pups had significantly higher levels of malondialdehyde, glutathione reductase enzyme activity, and calcium levels, which were reduced to control levels upon treatment with NACA. Conclusions: The data suggest that NACA has the potential to significantly improve vision and decrease the burden of cataract-related loss of function. Prevention and reversal of cataract formation could have a global impact. Development of pharmacological agents like NACA may eventually prevent cataract formation in high-risk populations and may prevent progression of early-stage cataracts. This brings a paradigm shift from expensive surgical treatment of cataracts to relatively inexpensive prevention of vision loss.

Original languageEnglish
Article number54
JournalBMC Ophthalmology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 26 2017


  • Calpain
  • Cataract
  • Crystallin
  • Glutathione
  • Lens
  • N-acetylcysteine amide (NACA)
  • Sodium selenite


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